UPDATES WITH MORE QUOTES BY TURKISH, SOMALI PRESIDENTS; EDITS THROUGHOUT
By Merve Aydogan
ANKARA (AA) - Türkiye's joint steps taken with the Mogadishu government in 2011 have helped Somalia revitalize, as the country was on the brink of collapse.
"In 2011, Somalia was on the brink of collapse as the international community articulated.
"So in 2011, we paid an official visit to Somalia with a large delegation to extend a message to the world that we are standing with our Somali brothers and sisters," Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a news conference held with his Somali counterpart Hassan Sheikh Mohamud at the capital Ankara.
Noting that the joint steps taken in 2010-2017 with Somalia have aided the country to revitalize and develop even further, Erdogan said the bilateral trade volume reached $363M last year, which was only $2M in 2013.
Located in an area of 80,000 square meters (over 861,000 square feet), Türkiye's largest embassy building in the world is located in the Somali capital Mogadishu, Erdogan said, adding that his country is proud of it.
The isolation of Somalia has ended after Turkish Airlines launched direct charter flights, Erdogan also added.
Turkish Airlines was the first international carrier that began operating in Somalia after a long civil war erupted in the Horn of Africa country in 1990.
Türkiye has expanded its support to Somalia in every field, starting from health care services to education and infrastructure development, he noted.
The humanitarian aid to Somalia in the last 10 years surpassed $1 billion, Erdogan noted, saying Türkiye will continue to develop its relations with the African continent and enhance its cooperation.
"Until now, we have completed the training of 1,000 special police officers in Somalia. As the Republic of Türkiye, we are determined to give our support in its fight against terrorism," Erdogan added.
For his part, Mohamud thanked the Turkish nation for its investments in Somalia, expressing appreciation to Türkiye and its people for the endeavor and efforts about the humanitarian situation his country has been facing.
Noting that Turkish and Somali leaders have addressed the importance of cooperation in the fields of commerce, defense, industry, and education, Mohamud said his country sees Türkiye "as an important partner" and an "indispensable friend for the development" of Somalia.
Somalia and Türkiye developed their close friendship in 2011 after the Turkish president paid a visit to the country as the first non-African leader to do so in over 20 years.